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Hippocampal subregion abnormalities in schizophrenia: A systematic review of structural and physiological imaging studies.



The hippocampus is considered a key region in schizophrenia pathophysiology, but the nature of hippocampal subregion abnormalities and how they contribute to disease expression remain to be fully determined. This study reviews findings from schizophrenia hippocampal subregion volumetric and physiological imaging studies published within the last decade.


The PubMed database was searched for publications on hippocampal subregion volume and physiology abnormalities in schizophrenia and their findings were reviewed.


The main replicated findings include smaller CA1 volumes and CA1 hyperactivation in schizophrenia, which may be predictive of conversion in individuals at clinical high risk of psychosis, smaller CA1 and CA4/DG volumes in first-episode schizophrenia, and more widespread smaller hippocampal subregion volumes with longer duration of illness. Several studies have reported relationships between hippocampal subregion volumes and declarative memory or symptom severity.


Together these studies provide support for hippocampal formation circuitry models of schizophrenia. These initial findings must be taken with caution as the scientific community is actively working on hippocampal subregion method improvement and validation. Further improvements in our understanding of the nature of hippocampal formation subregion involvement in schizophrenia will require the collection of structural and physiological imaging data at submillimeter voxel resolution, standardization and agreement of atlases, adequate control for possible confounding factors, and multi-method validation of findings. Despite the need for cautionary interpretation of the initial findings, we believe that improved localization of hippocampal subregion abnormalities in schizophrenia holds promise for the identification of disease contributing mechanisms.

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